National Guard Deployments against Civil Unrest Spread Across the Country
June 1, 2020 (EIRNS)—According to an update posted by the National Guard Bureau yesterday, a total of 66,722 Guard troops are mobilized in 23 states for the coronavirus response, civil disturbances, disaster response, and other tasks. Of those, about 45,000 are deployed on pandemic response while 17,015 are assisting law enforcement in response to civil unrest in dozens of cities across the country, from Boston to Los Angeles. The update notes, too, that the situation across the country is very fluid and that the numbers can change quickly.
Guard members are to perform a variety of mission sets, including traffic control, support to law enforcement, transportation, and communication support, the NGB said. They’ve also been called upon to assist with extinguishing fires burning as a result of the unrest.
“Aircrews were using forest fire equipment, including helicopter water buckets, to put out building fires at protests last night,” said Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “We’re here to help and assist local authorities,” he added. “Our troops are here to protect life and property, and preserve peace, order, and public safety.”
Army Master Sgt. Michael Houk, a National Guard Bureau spokesman, told Military Times that the duration of the activations is unknown at this time. “The National Guard will remain on mission as long as they’re needed,” he said.
The White House has indicated, however, that there are no plans at present to federalize the National Guard. “We’re not going to federalize the Guard at this time. But, if necessary, we have further military assets that can be deployed,” President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told reporters at the White House on May 31. “We’ll do whatever the governors or mayors need to keep control of their cities.”
Minnesota Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen said during a May 31 conference call with Pentagon reporters, that Guard troops in his state are carrying rifles, sidearms, and ammunition in response to a “credible threat” aimed directly against them as reported by the FBI. “Our soldiers are currently carrying ammunition in their magazine pouches,” Jensen said. “We don’t talk about rules of engagement,” he continued, but said that in general troops “cannot greatly exceed the force” with which they might be threatened.
The adjutants general of Colorado and Georgia, who joined Jensen on the call, said their troops had not received any direct credible threats. Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Loh, adjutant general of Colorado, said the troops he has deployed to back up law enforcement in Denver were not armed, and Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden Jr., adjutant general of Georgia, said his troops were carrying only sidearms.